RIVM proposes water quality standards for three pharmaceuticals in surface water: carbamazepine (epilepsy), metoprolol (heart failure) and metformin (diabetes). During the past years, these pharmaceuticals have been found in surface water in the Netherlands. They were included in the so-called 'watchlist' of substances which can negatively affect water quality. The proposed quality standards can be used to better estimate possible risks for man and the environment. They serve as advisory values for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, which is responsible for standard setting. Methodology For water quality standards, four exposure routes are taken into account: direct effects on ecosystems, secondary poisoning of fish-eating animals, consumption of fish by man and the abstraction of surface water for drinking water. The route with the most strict quality standard determines the final quality standard. The WFD methodology further distinguishes between standards protecting against prolonged and short-term exposure. Availability of data For another watchlist pharmaceutical, amidotrizoic acid (an X-ray contrast medium), the derivation of environmental quality standards turned out to be not possible. RIVM was not able to use the relevant data for this substance. In general, a lack of access to original study reports hampered a sound derivation of quality standards, also for the other compounds. RIVM makes a plea that pharmaceutical companies and competent authorities provide all information needed to derive environmental quality standards for pharmaceuticals. Monitoring Pharmaceuticals enter the environment through sewage. Monitoring data in surface waters in the Netherlands show that the proposed quality standards are not exceeded. However, these monitoring data concern large rivers and not the smaller water bodies with a lower dilution of the sewage effluent. At this moment, water boards are collecting monitoring data to assess if the proposed water quality standards are exceeded in these smaller water bodies. This research was conducted by order of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment.