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Contrary to President Donald Trump's claim last week that "our air right now and our water right now is as clean as it's been in decades," a new report indicates that the opposite is true: The United States' air quality has worsened since 2016.

The worsening air quality trend, which saw fine particulate pollution increase 5.5% between 2016 and 2018, reverses a decade of improving air quality in the United States, during which fine particulate pollution fell nearly 25%, according to a working paper published this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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"We had been improving for a long time in this country," said Nicholas Muller, co-author of the paper and associate professor of economics, engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. "To see that reversal is very important."

Muller hopes reporting the pattern will prompt public awareness, especially among state and local air quality regulators.