IAQ could be one of the pandemic-inspired changes that sticks around long after COVID-19 is gone

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Many new words, terms, and abbreviations have become common during the pandemic, but have you heard of IAQ?

IAQ will likely be a commonplace thing for future generations. It stands for indoor air quality, and it's the next frontier against the battle against airborne viruses.

After more than a year of living in a pandemic, we now know that filtering air is the best initial defense. That's why we wear masks.

Well, those who make IAQ their business say the pandemic demonstrated that we now also need to pay closer attention to using HVAC machines that filter and move air in our offices and homes.

"Clean air coming from the outside going through high-quality air filtration in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, acts as that building's mask if you will," said Brian Haines of Raleigh's FM Systems, a company that appears visionary because it was preaching indoor air quality long before the pandemic.

Because of the pandemic, Haines thinks heightened awareness of IAQ will become the next big thing.

"One of the things that came out of the pandemic was an understanding that air quality including things like temperature and humidity control, really can help to control the transmission of airborne particulates, what's coming out of our mouths," he said.

In addition to space-planning for workers' safe return to the office, FM Systems sells devices that monitor the air, and employee movement and density.

The devices can regulate the mechanical systems for optimum indoor air quality.

Of course, IAQ is something watched closely in FM Systems' own offices, especially when they shuffle workspaces Haines noted.

"Now every time we make a change, we can see how it affects the air around us," he said.

But FM Systems doesn't sell the equipment that moves and filters air.

That's what the folks at Indoor Environmental Systems do.

"More people are aware and interested in IAQ and the impact that it's having on the quality of their life," said Steve McLeod, who along with his wife, has been running the Cary company for nearly 30 years.

New, state-of-the-art, high-tech HVAC systems are a hot commodity right now if they can move more air, remove humidity, and filter the smallest particles, such as viruses.

"Those three things are the most important we find in following the CDC's recommendations for viral control," McLeod said.

So whether it's in your office or in your home, indoor air quality is something you will be hearing a lot about in our post-pandemic world.
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