Ala. officials: Beaches to remain open despite oil

Alabama's top health official says his department won't close the state's beaches even if they're hit by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

State Health Officer Donald Williamson told a public meeting of some 800 people Wednesday in Gulf Shores that the oil shouldn't pose a major health threat.

Williamson said the petroleum smell may cause dizziness or nausea in some people or irrigate the lungs of people with asthma.

But he said there should be few lasting effects.

Officials do plan to erect signs warning people to stay out of the water should the oil arrive in Alabama. But Williamson said someone who gets oil on their skin can simply wash it off with soap and water.

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