If you have stoichiometric combustion and perfect mixing of fuel (wood, pine needles, whatever) and air, you can minimize pollutants. But when you’re burning something solid, you never have perfect mixing and that means you get all kind of compounds out of burning other than just CO2 and H2O. The basic pollutants are carbon monoxide from burning too lean, nitric-oxides from burning too hot, nasty complex hydrocarbon pollutants, and particulates.
According to this site, “wood smoke is chemically active in the body 40 times longer than tobacco”, and it kills 30,000 people in the US per year. http://burningissues.org/car-www/index.html
I take iddees advice when it comes to bees, and I do use a smoker, but I would love an alternative that works.
I also set my smoker down next to the hive when not in use. I don’t use much smoke, unless they start coming after me.