The excellent account by Rev. William C. Milne entitled "Life in China" (1857) has a curious description of dust storms that occured in Shanghai regularly in the 19th century:
The deposit of this exquisite powder is found to be a quarter of an inch thick in some places, after a fall of a day or two: it can penetrate the closest Venetians; it overspreads every article of furniture in the house; it finds its way into the most secluded apartments; it blows into the tightest wardrobe. In walking abroad, one's clothes are covered with dust, — the face gets dirty, the mouth and throat parched up, the teeth grate, the eyes become irritable, the ears tickle, the nostrils feel itchy; and it is to be feared that for ophthalmic and pulmonary patients these showers are far from beneficial. The fall used at times to extend as far as Ningpo, — also 200 miles out to sea, and (it has been said) inland over the midland provinces Honan and Kiangse."
The origins of the dust were unclear: some suspected desert sand from the northwest, some guessed the volcanic origin. In 1850 Milne sent a packet of dust to a naturalist in England but the analysis was vague. The scientist did not think that it was stardust, "but in order to form a correct opinion as to the source whence it came, many other particulars must be known."