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Abstract : The aim of this study was to evaluate cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb) and mercury (Hg) contamination in wild mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) at Cherrat estuary, Morocco, and to assess the season and site effects on metal bioaccumulation. In total, 16 samples/site were collected at two sites in the estuary between April 2019 and March 2020. At each site, samples collected in the dry season (April 2019 to September 2019) were analyzed in the same batch as well as those collected during the rainy season (October 2019 to March 2020). Cd and Pb concentrations were measured by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry and Hg concentrations with cold vapor atomic absorption spectroscopy. Overall, the mean concentrations of Pb, Cd, and Hg in mussels were 0.3 ± 0.03 mg. kg−1, 0.09 ± 0.02 mg. kg−1, and 0.05 ± 0.01 mg. kg−1, respectively. The mean Pb concentration in mussels significantly varied in function of the season: 0.4 mg. kg-1 in the rainy season and 0.25 mg. kg-1in the dry season (p <0.001). This significant season effect on Pb concentration could be explained by different biological and environmental inter-related factors. According to the maximum limits for heavy metals in mussels set by the European Commission and Moroccan regulations, the investigated samples from Cherrat estuary were safe for human consumption. However, their frequent consumption may contribute to the bioaccumulation of these toxic heavy metals in consumers.

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