Watch out - if your PC is suffering under dirty workstation conditions, surrounded by dusty air, something disastrous might occur. Industry research has concluded that up to 70 per cent of computer-related breakdowns are due to dust and other tiny particles in the air. PCs are no exception. Dust could build up inside a computer and, over time, cause severe damage to it, Henrik Christensen, director of Abacus ComputerCare, said. He said that as dust accumulated, it prevented heat from escaping. This would cause excessive heating of components, and your PC would then fail to run properly. To reduce heat damage and chip destruction, dust should be removed without blowing it back into the office, he said. Abacus provides a dust-cleaning service for PCs and workstations using its own machine specifically designed and manufactured for the Hong Kong market. It also provides external cleaning of monitors, CPUs, keyboards and mouses by using its own cleaning material developed by sister companies in Norway and the Netherlands. 'Dust contains conductive elements as well. They can cause partial short-circuits in a system,' Mr Christensen said. 'Dust can also be very abrasive to the moving parts of your computer such as drive heads and keyboard contacts.' Mr Christensen pointed to the case of Chek Lap Kok, where dust had been blamed for causing computer malfunctions that led to disruption of cargo-handling and passenger services after the airport was opened in July. 'Considering the problem the new Hong Kong international airport had with dust, I hope that people will start recognising that dust can really generate serious problems.' Moreover, Mr Christensen said dust settling inside computers could smoulder, creating potential health problems for PC users. According to the Walter Reid Institute of Medical Research, employee absenteeism has been known to fall by half after employers improved the quality of air in the workplace. Peter Mallen, marketing consultant at Abacus, recommended that PCs or workstations should be cleaned twice a year both internally and externally. Keyboards should also be taken apart for cleaning. Home PC users should be careful if using a vacuum cleaner to do the job, as it should not touch any internal components or it would damage the computer. 'If they use compressed air to clean the dust away, try to do it outside on a balcony, if possible,' Mr Mallen said. He said cleaning the computer inside where the air was dusty would be of little use as the fan would suck the dust back in when the computer was switched on.