In a city built on oil and industry money, Houstonians have a name for the odor that emanates from its numerous industrial facilities: “the smell of money.” But for some residents, it also marks a dangerous public health threat: high levels of toxic air pollutants that have been linked to cancer, kidney and liver damage, as well as respiratory illnesses. In one neighborhood, levels of the carcinogen benzene were so high that one scientist said living there would be like “sitting in traffic 24-7.”

Following her nose, HOUSTON CHRONICLE reporter Dina Cappiello sought to prove definitively that, despite industry denials, the neighborhoods around refineries and petrochemical plants suffer from the smokestacks that release these chemicals in their midst. With help from neighborhood residents, she planted air pollution sensors around some of Houston’s worst polluters, documenting the public health menace of air toxins as well as the ineptitude of the state regulators charged with protecting the public from these very threats.

This week, EXPOSÉ premieres “The Scientific Method” online with the shocking results of the CHRONICLE’s investigation.

>> Read Dina Cappiello’s original reports in the HOUSTON CHRONICLE.

>> What are the nation’s most polluted cities? Which cities have the cleanest air? Check back tomorrow on the Blog to find out.

The EXPOSÉ: America’s Investigative Reports series is produced by Thirteen/WNET New York in association with CIR.