"Our culture now has an alarmist attitude to anything remotely unhealthy while ignoring all of the significant things that damage our health every day."
Like... burning wood?
I mean, some people use it to heat their homes every day - and the evidence shows this is *exactly* a "significant thing that damages our health."
Anyway, I hear what you're saying, and I also get the (mostly valid) comparison to car exhaust (though the point was really that what I've read on wood smoke is that, despite what we'd like to believe, it is in fact far more dangerous/carcinogenic than most synthetic exhausts - that's possibly offset by the vastly greater amounts a lot of us inhale of the latter).
But where I disagree is that sound scientific research is just a byproduct of "our culture" and can be safely ignored. Do you feel the same way about "our culture's" views on UV radiation from the sun, or cigarette smoke, or looking both ways before crossing the street?
My point is that if you in any way make decisions in your life about the above three things, which are all well-researched and are extremely likely to have some impact on your health, you have similar reason to make an informed decision about wood smoke.
If you feel it's worth the risks, or you mitigate your exposure time and stay upwind, etc, then great, that's your decision to make either way. I'll probably do the same from time to time, though I suspect the amount inhaled at a campfire, even upwind, is far greater than we might think. I just think it's interesting to ponder how all that is natural is not always 'good' or always worth the "increase[d] connectivity to the natural environment" as Ryan put it.
My apologies for any potential derailment, as well.